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FDA Appoints Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods Program

August 29, 2023

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the appointment of James “Jim” Jones as the first-ever deputy commissioner for the Human Foods Program. As deputy commissioner of the Human Foods Program, Jones will oversee and have full decision-making authority over the program, including resource allocation, risk prioritization strategy, policy, and major response activities involving human foods. He will lead the proposed unified Human Foods Program, which includes the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Food Policy and Response, and certain functions within the Office of Regulatory Affairs. To bolster the resilience of the U.S. food supply in the face of climate change and globalization, the Human Foods Program will oversee food safety, chemical safety, and innovative food products, including products from new agricultural technologies. Furthermore, the program will include the area of nutrition to help reduce diet-related diseases and improve health equity.

Jones comes from the environmental sector and has spent most of his career as a federal regulator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) in charge of pesticides, toxic substances, chemical safety, and pollution prevention. In these roles, he earned the admiration of colleagues for making public health-based decisions grounded in sound science, public policy, and law. Jones has experience in lessening the impact chemicals and pollution have on the U.S. food supply. He was a principal architect of the U.S. EPA overhaul in 2016 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, the first update of that statute in more than 40 years.

This past fall he served on the Independent Expert Panel on Food convened by Reagan-Udall Foundation. The panel evaluated U.S. food programs and provided recommendations that ultimately led to the proposed reorganization of FDA that is currently underway. Jones has intimate knowledge of the food programs within FDA and the opportunities facing the agency. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the FDA’s first deputy commissioner for Human Foods. I had the pleasure of serving on the expert panel that provided operational recommendations for the FDA’s foods-related activities, and I now look forward to helping the agency realize its vision for the proposed Human Foods Program,” said Jones. “As a former pesticide regulator, I deeply understand the unique needs of government programs involved in upholding the safety of the U.S. food supply and the important role that the agriculture community and state partners play in this paradigm.”

In commenting on the selection, FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf notes that the “unprecedented array of major scientific, technological, cultural, and environmental changes affecting human food call for a leader with vision and ability to both lead change inside the organization while working effectively with other government agencies and the array of stakeholders. Jim has the vision and mix of executive-level and real-world experience to lead at this pivotal time.”

Jones is scheduled to start in this new position at FDA on September 24.

For more information, contact Government Affairs Director Doug Farquhar.